Current Affairs May 2013
Former NSA contractor and whistleblower of U.S electronic surveillance programme Edward Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia and left the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for an undisclosed “safe location”.
Mr. Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor had been stuck at Sheremetyevo Airport since June 23, when he arrived in Moscow on the way from Hong Kong. However, he could not continue his journey as U.S. authorities revoked his passport.
The U.S. has asked Russia to hand over Mr. Snowden for trial on charges for espionage, but has not sent a formal extradition request. President Vladimir Putin has refused to hand him over.
How the temporary asylum granted by Russia to Snowden will protect him?
The Russian temporary asylum to Mr Snowden will protect him from extradition as a person granted temporary asylum cannot be returned against his will to the country of his citizenship or his residence. The asylum status allows Mr. Snowden to live and work in Russia for one year and can be extended indefinitely on a yearly basis.
Delhi Police has notified that by May 31, 2013, all traders of Ammonium nitrate will have to apply for a licence. With this, the buyer will have to furnish his identity and purpose before purchase of ammonium nitrate. However, schools, colleges, laboratories, clinics and hospitals are allowed to possess less than 5kg of ammonium nitrate but the area SHO must be informed.
Punishment on Violation: maximum punishment for violation is a life term.
Why this move?
In recent blasts ranging from the Delhi high court explosions to the Bangalore BJP headquarters, police have found traces of Ammonium nitrate which shows the possibility of its use in making explosives.
Note: Sale and usage of ammonium nitrate falls in the special category under Explosive Substances Act.
Three nations- India, the United States and Australia have come together to collaborate on developing new climate-resilient varieties of rice and wheat, two of the “big three” primary crops essential to feed the world.
The key agencies/organizations which are part of this effort are the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is backing a new public-private research partnership b/w the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) and India’s Vibha Agrotech.
How it will be done?
The effort will put to use the unique specialties of ACPFG (gene technologies and expertise in cereal stress tolerance) and Vibha Agrotech’s field evaluation and rice transformation capabilities to develop new rice and wheat varieties with greater tolerance to drought and salinity, allowing farmers more stable production in the event of sudden drought and evolving salt water intrusion.
The new lines will be evaluated under representative field conditions and the most successful will be transferred into the varieties that farmers grow.
Initially, the work will begin in Australia and India, but the technologies will be made available to developing countries in South Asia and globally where climate stresses impact cereal yields, so that farmers can be more confident that they will have a good harvest, even as climate change creates more unpredictable growing environments.
What are Big Three Crops?
Big Three crops are:
Why this endeavor?
As the climate is changing it has become imperative to develop varieties of key crops which can sustain this change as well as provide high yield in the event of adverse climatic conditions like drought and salinity. With expanding population and reduction in the availability of land for agricultural purpose there will be the necessity to introduce such crops to mitigate global hunger and address food security.
The government is ready to experiment the Direct Benefit Transfer programme in the form of LPG subsidy. 18 districts have been selected to test this scheme in which the government will transfer LPG subsidy directly into the Aadhaar linked banked accounts of the beneficiaries. From June 1, 2013 cooking gas consumers in these districts will get Rs 435 in their bank accounts when they book an LPG cylinder.
Initially, the scheme was planned for 20 districts but the launch in Mysore in Karnataka and Mandi in Himachal Pradesh has been postponed by a month due to assembly and Parliamentary bypolls.
What will be the impact of this scheme?
After the launch of the scheme, consumers in 18 districts such as North Goa and Pondicherry will get Rs 435 in their bank accounts every time they book for an LPG refill. These consumers then will have to buy cooking gas at market price which is double the Rs 410.50 rate for a 14.2-kg bottle in Delhi.
For the government, this plan is likely to cut its fuel subsidy and expected to save Rs 8,000 to 10,000 crore in LPG subsidy annually after the scheme is rolled out all over the country.